Linked with Britain for over 350 years, since 1588 when Queen Elizabeth granted a patent to English merchants to trade with the country, is Gambia in West Africa, which became a Colony in 1888. After this war had broken out – especially when from June 1940 to May 1943 the Mediterranean was closed to Allied shipping – Bathurst, capital of Gambia, gained importance as one of the stopping-places on the West African air transport routes.
Gambia, with an area of some 4,132 square miles and a population of 199,520 has several organizations to help the Allied effort, including the Gambian Women Workers, composed of Europeans and non-Europeans; during the early days of the Battle of the Atlantic these voluntarily assisted and cared for shipwrecked seamen; they also helped to equip Gambians serving in the Army. Volunteers for the Army, Navy and Merchant Navy have been many. Products useful to the war effort include vast quantities of ground nuts or monkey nuts (oil from which is used in the manufacture of margarine and soap) and rice, hides, rubber and wax.
Millet and rice are the staple food of the people, and the home-growing of these crops helps greatly towards easing difficulties arising from war-time reductions of other supplies; it also releases tons of valuable shipping space for other vital service in the cause of the United Nations.